Watch For Hobbits Thursday, Friday And Saturday While Touring The Whimsical Shire Of Preston Hollow For Equest

Now that this wet stuff seems to be calming down, the upcoming days seems bright and shiny. Evidently, the Equest organizers arranged something with Mother Nature to have perfect weather for folks to explore the Tolkien-inspired Shire in Preston Hollow.

The Shire of Preston Hollow*

While other estates in the neighborhood are manicured like a socialite’s nails, this acreage is a wonderland with its 9,000-square-foot main house, an attached conservatory and a detached guest house known as the Hobbit House. Why, Frodo Baggins would feel right at home there! And rightly so. After all, it took seven years to create. Why, one would actually expect Legolas to flutter by or to be greeted by Gimli at the drawbridge before crossing to the portcullis.

Inside there will be “couture fashions and accessories from Lily of the West and Hari Jewels, with designer guests appearances, and additional luxury items from Origins of Santa Fe Boutique” plus refreshments and music. And while Shadowfax, Arod and Bill the Pony won’t be on hand, their good buddies, the Equest mini-ambassadors, just might be hoofing around for a photo or two.

Like Brigadoon, this magical property at 4668 Meadowood Road will be available for touring this Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to benefit Equest. Alas, it’s only available for checking out by big kids (21 years and older). Organizers are requesting a minimum donation of $20 for the equine therapeutic program. Register right here.

* Photo provided by Equest

The 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Bus Tour Of The Eight Beneficiaries Resulted In Flowers, Tears And Inspiration For The $5.8M Goal

Like many nonprofits, there comes a once-a-year decision of how the raised funds will be distributed. For 65 years, Crystal Charity Ball has had that come-to moment for the Dallas area children’s nonprofits. To think. There are grown-ups who have survived devastating diseases and overcome miserable home lives and then have had amazing lives, thanks to the committee of 100 women.  

On Thursday, February 16, CCB Chair Pam Perella, CCB Underwriting Chair Leslie Diers and a busload of ladies undertook a day of visiting the eight beneficiaries thanks to Briggs Freeman | Sotheby’s International Realty’s Layne Pitzer‘s and Joan Eleazer‘s underwriting the tour. It was at one of those stops where the membership saw firsthand how one child and his mother represented the thousands of faceless and nameless other kids who were in need. More about that later.

Before the tour got underway with Andre in the driver’s seat, though, tour director Fredye Factor reminded the group that this year’s “working theme” was TV shows. Since the tour had been tagged as “All My Children,” they had arranged for Susan Lucci‘s cousin Pucci Lucci to address the ladies. Pucci turned out to be CCB member Pam McCallum, whose Pucci was more Blanche Devereaux than Erica Kane.

Big Brothers Big Sister Lone Star — $500,000

Bill Chinn

But it was time to get down to work and things started off with two representative making presentations on board the bus. First up was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lone Star President Bill Chinn, who told how the July 7th shooting in downtown Dallas had spurred them on with a project — Bigs in Blue, which would connect first responders like policeman, fire fighters and city personnel as mentors for at-risk children to “establish strong and enduring one-to-one relationships.”  

Rainbow Days — $500,000

Tiffany Beaudine

Next up was Rainbow Days Director of Development Tiffany Beaudine, who reported that the CCB’s contribution would span three years to purchase a new van for transporting supplies to children living in motels, as well as adding “one new full-time program manager and a portion of four staff members who will assist in implementing programs, and partial salary for the program director.” Rainbow Day’s Project Hope program would also “deliver food weekly including snacks, school clothing and hygiene products as well as an opportunity for homeless children to attend summer day camps and holiday celebrations.”

The children whom they serve often suffer from fear. Too often their lives are filled with gunfire at night and the fear of playing outdoors.  

The Autism Treatment Center — $582,020

Neil Massey

Then the ladies were driven to the Autism Treatment Center to learn firsthand about its Early Intervention Therapy and Educational Capital Campaign. Thanks to the contribution, 101,100 square feet of the present facility will be “reconfigured and remodeled to increase the number of educational classrooms, therapy rooms, counseling offices and other important spaces.” The additional space will allow the Autism Treatment Center to quadruple the number of students who will receive help.

In showing the outdoor playground with its misting umbrella for hot days and the growing garden that provides both education and accomplishment, Development Director Neil Massey looked at the open lot next door. Having outgrown their current facilities, he said that they had tried to buy it from the present owner but had had no luck.

Autism Treatment Center

But it was the classrooms where the ladies learned that patience was a key to working with autistic boys and girls. Structure and patience were not just paramount for the children’s learning to adjust to their special conditions. But those lessons were important to being included in the family life. One lesson was that when an autistic children got frustrated and got physically upset, it was important for them to be ignored until they realized that their actions would not produce results. One CCB-er, upon hearing the comment said, “That probably proves true in all our lives.”

Presbyterian Communities & Services Foundation — $541,098

Presbyterian Communities and Services Foundation board member Mary Ann Hyde

Next on the itinerary was the T. Boone Pickens Center. The timing of the visit was perfectly planned. It just so happened that the Center’s board was meeting that day with Board Trustee Mary Ann Hyde backed by the board members to greet the ladies in front of the magnificent facility.

So, it may have initially seemed curious to have CCB that benefits children to be providing funds for a hospice facility, but there was a very important aspect of the Pickens Center that affected children — the Faith Presbyterian Hospice Child and Family Bereavement Program.

Breaking into groups, the membership was shown the facilities that would assist not just those completing their lives, but would also help family, especially children, to be part of the final farewell and adjust to the loss. The 36-bed facility featured suites especially designed to comfort the patients with breathtaking views of the lake, doors that could accommodate the patient’s bed being moved to the room’s patio, and the out-of-sight medical equipment.

Presbyterian T. Boone Pickens Center guest suite

But the main point of the tour was how the Faith Presbyterian Hospice Child and Family Bereavement Program would help children through the process of grieving the loss “in a healthy and healing way.” There were the Marnie and Kern Wildenthal Education Center and the Harold Simmons Foundation Inpatient Care Center that provided both areas of play and adjustment to loss.  

Faith Presbyterian Hospice Child and Family Bereavement Program play room

In one room was a playhouse with super heroes on the walls. While in other rooms were materials for kids to vent their feelings regardless of their ages to social workers, counselors, music therapists and art therapists, who “will encourage healthy emotional growth, and bring unique comfort to children who have lost a sibling, parent or grandparents.”  

Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance — $527,770

The next stop was the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance in the West End. While it was perfectly planned to coincide with a group of students, it reinforced the need for the Holocaust’s need to expand to a larger facility. CCB and high schoolers found themselves on top of each other learning about the horrors of World War II and the demonstrations of remembrance.

Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance’s Paul Lake

One such example was the placement of stones representing the persons who were victims of the Holocaust. One teenager’s attempt to place a stone found their effort falling on the floor, resounding throughout the room. Ironically, the sound of the stone hitting the hard stone floor seemed to draw attention to the solemnity that had filled the room.

Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance

For a three-year period, the CCB contribution will allow “thousands of Title 1 and economically disadvantaged students to the Museum, free of charge, and will provide their teachers necessary curriculum support.”

Children’s Medical Center Foundation — $1,111,735

Just blocks away from Children’s Medical Center, the CCB-ers donned hard hats and safety glasses to tour Children’s Health’s Comprehensive Gait and Mobility Program that was under construction. Planned to officially open with full services in May, it allows youngsters with movement challenges resulting from injuries or chronic illnesses to access all the treatments in one facility. The rooms would provide everything from aquatic treatments to padded rock climbing.

Comprehensive Gait and Mobility Program aquatic facility under construction

Thanks to CCB’s contribution, it would be possible to purchase “five pieces of state-of-the-art robotic gait and mobility training equipment: The ErigoPro early mobilization tilt-table, the LokomatPro robotic based partial-weight-bearing treadmill system, the Andago body weight supported mobile robotic gait system, the Natus balance and gait assessment system and the HydroWorx therapy pool. Training for staff and robotic software upgrades are included with the purchase of this equipment.”

Thanks to this “centralized accessibility, thousands of Dallas County children will be able to seek services designed for patients from two to 18 years of age.

As the committee gathered in the main room, they were told of a surprise. It was indeed a surprise. Britt Cupp, who had suffered a trauma to his brain due to a skateboard accident years ago, arrived with yellow roses and a personal note for each of the women. As his mother, Angela Cupp, looked on, Britt handed out the flowers. Unfortunately, when Britt had his accident, he and his family were forced to seek assistance at different facilities throughout the country. Many of the CCB-ers who had children Britt’s age looked on in amazement at the mother and son who had been through so much and were spearheading the creation of such a facility.

Pam Perella, Angela Cupp, Britt Cupp and Brent Christopher

After a massive group pic with Britt, the CCB-ers with flowers in hand gathered outside for the traditional group picture. Inside Angela had one request — a photo of Britt with 2017 CCB President Pam Perella and Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher. Little did she know that Brent had made a similar request, saying, “Britt is my hero.”

Hunger Busters — $1,192,500

The CCB bus now headed to West Dallas for the Hunger Busters operation behind a tall wrought-iron fence topped with razor wire. On the side of the small building, the air condition units were padlocked.

Iron fences topped with razor wire at Hunger Busters

New father/Hunger Busters Executive Director Trey Hoobler explained, “We’re in a turf war here caught between two groups.”

But despite the Spartan and tight conditions, Production/Volunteer Manager Gumaro Castillo in the kitchen’s prep area explained how Ford would be proud of the assembly line of volunteers prepping the meals for DISD schools and after-school programs. Having been there eight years, Gumaro pointed with pride as volunteers put together sandwiches.

Hunger Busters volunteers

Thanks to the CCB contribution that would be used over a three-year period, the Feed the Need program would be expanded, “representing a 150% increase in the number of children served, from 2,000 to 5,000 daily. An additional new delivery van and staff support will allow Hunger Busters to serve children and schools on their waiting list for a total of 300,000 additional meals each year.”

Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy — $850,000  

Sandra Helton

The final stop of the day was Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy, where Sister Sandra Helton pointed to an open lot adjacent to the school where a cafeteria would be built. She then showed why the new facility would be needed, as she led the group to the present room where children eat. If the current lunchroom was needed for another event, the tables and chairs had to be removed and then replaced afterwards. If a funeral was to take place in the nearby sanctuary, meals would have to delayed.  The kitchen was barely larger than a jet liner’s kitchen.

Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy

While the tour was going on, some youngsters took naps on the classroom floors, some practiced in the music room under Brandon McDannald‘s direction and others were hard at work at desks in classrooms.

Thanks to the CCB commitment, a 12,500-square-fooot cafeteria and fine arts center will be built that will be “available weekends for 1,300 children who attend religious education classes and also for Science Fairs, Band and Choir concerts, fundraisers like their Fall Festival and Grandparent’s Day. Funds will also be used for a dedicated fine arts center, giving Santa Clara students many more options in band, music, choir and art with designated classrooms where they can safely secure their instruments and supplies. Additionally, funds will provide a parish office and conference room, allowing for more students in the existing school.”

It was then homeward bound and ten months of fundraising to provide $5.8M for the children of Dallas.

For more photos from the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball bus tour, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweet2017Goals: Beth Thoele

According to Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show and Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele,

Angie Kadesky (File photo)

Beth Thoele (File photo)

“I share common goal with Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Angie Kadesky.  In addition to chairing a sold-out luncheon and fashion show at Brook Hollow Golf Club on Tuesday, October 3, we would like to honor the children, adults and veterans, who are served by this incredible organization.  We have seen how lives are transformed through the wonder of a horse and incredibly dedicated staff and volunteers.

“Our secondary goal is to bring awareness and support to Equest’s mission to enhance the quality of life for individuals with diverse needs using horses to bring hope and healing through Equine assisted activities and therapies.”

JUST IN: 2017 Equest Gala Plans Announced For Field Of Dreams With Kathy And Jeromy Fielder As Co-Chairs

From the left: (back row) Alanna Sarabie, Andrea Reich, Gretchen Darby, Dare, Keetha Hanlin, Regina Bruce, Melissa Vullo Bell and Renee Farinella; (front row) Dianna Pietra, Deve Sandord, Kathy Fielder and Britt Harless*

Despite last night’s dreary, wet weather, the horse-loving Equest crowd headed over to Samuel Lynne Galleries. The draw was not a new exhibition on horses. Rather it was the kick-off reception for the 2017 Equest Gala. Upstaging the art on the walls were the Equest mini-ambassadors, Cisco and Dare. It was the pair’s first visit to the gallery and vice versa.

Lili Kellogg, Jocelyn White, Lynn McBee and Susan Schwartz*

On hand to hear the news were Samuel Lynne

Co-Founder/artist JD Miller and his artist wife Lea Fisher Miller, Dan Pritchett, Deve Sanford, Mimi Noland, Nicole Barrett, Doug Murray, Georgette Doukas, Alanna Sarabie, Andrea Reich, Gretchen Darby, Keetha Hanlin, Regina Bruce, Melissa Vullo Bell, Renee Farinella, Dianna Pietra, Britt Harless, Debbie Murray, Regina Bruce, Heather “Miss Texas Teen” King, past Equest Chairman of the Board/Gala Chair Jocelyn White, Equest Co-Founder Susan Schwartz and Chairman of the Board Andy Steingasser.

Laura and Jason Cope*

JD Miller*

Equest CEO Lili Kellogg revealed the news of the night. This year’s theme will be “Field of Dreams” with Co-Chairs Kathy and Jeromy Fielder and Honorary Co-Chairs Lynn and Allan McBee.

It will take place on Saturday, April 29, at Texas Horse Park with “gourmet southern cuisine, craft cocktails, live music and much-desired live and silent auction items.”    

There will be a demonstration of how Equest is making such a difference in peoples’ lives, head patting with Texas Horse Park residents and dancing to Texas Country Music. What were you expecting — minuets?

While sponsorships start at $5,000, Lili announced that “the first Gala sponsor to contribute a minimum of $15,000 or more” would receive an original horse photo donated by photographer Laura Cope.

For smart folks who reach the VIP status, the horse-ing around will start at 6:30, while the rest of the herd will hit the doors at 7. Since there is no on-site parking, shuttles will be available.

* Photo credit: Bob Manzano

JUST IN: Equest To Sell Wylie Property, Add Al Hill Jr. Family Arena At Texas Horse Park Facility With Completion Slated For Fall 2017

Equest just revealed a big reduction and expansion of its physical operation. The reduction is the putting up for sale its Wylie property. Despite the “For Sale” sign, it will continue operating from Friday, January 27, thru Saturday, May 13. Handling the sale will be Dave Perry-Miller and Associates’ Andy Steingasser, who is also Equest’s chairman of the board. Just to keep this above board, Andy is donating 100% of his commission to Equest.

Heather Washburne, Al Hill Jr. and Elisa Summers (File photo)

On the other hand, Equest’s expansion will be the addition of a new state-of-the-art arena at its Texas Horse Park facility. Named Al Hill Jr. Family Arena, the new arena will allow the organization to be “a closer step to Equest’s vision to be a model of excellence for worldwide therapeutic riding center. The beautiful energy-efficient clearspan steel covered arena will feature wooden kick boards, a blended equestrian-specific footage, large industrial fans, high-tech audio capabilities, and a platform for announcers and judges. It will increase opportunities for Equest to serve more clients and amplify outreach programming with the Dallas Independent School District, as well as additional audiences and organizations.”

According to Andy, “Al Hill Jr. is a Dallas businessman whom [sic] has had an interest in horses all of his life. Having an involvement using equestrian programs which benefits military veterans and especially handicapped children is a perfect combination of his personal interest. Having a distinguished arena that has multi-use functionality and accessibility will not only impact Equest but also the City of Dallas. We look forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks.”

Plans presently call for a March groundbreaking with completion slated for this fall.

MySweet2017Goals: Ryan “Birdman” Parrott

Ryan Parrott*

According to Sons of the Flag Founder Ryan “Birdman” Parrott,

My personal goal is plain and simple. Be the best new dad I can be in 2017. Son is 4 months old currently.

“Two business goals are Complete Operation Miracle Jump for the Birds Eye View Project and grow Sons of the Flag to a national charity covering down on more burn survivors than previous years.”

* Photo provided by 
Sons of the Flag

MySweetWishList: Equest

According to Equest CEO Lili Kellogg,

Lili Kellogg (File photo)

“Our wish at Equest this holiday season is to help more people like Katelin Beyer make the impossible, possible.

“Katelin is a bright and bubbly 20-year-old, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and stroke from a car accident. After being in a coma for 2 weeks, ICU for 21 days, enduring over 21 surgeries on her head alone, followed by two years of stays in multiple rehabilitation centers, her therapists and doctors told her that she would never walk again.

“Katelin’s family discovered Equest, and after a year of hippotherapy and hard work with her Equest therapist and favorite horse, Bounce, Katelin is walking.

“This is just one of many success stories Equest has seen over the 35 years as an organization. This holiday season please consider participating in our ‘Gift of the Horse’ campaign to help continue to change lives like Katelin’s. Equest’s equine facilitated therapy and horsemanship programs are provided to over 1,200 children and adults with disabilities and Veterans who have served our country.


“Give the ‘Gift of a Horse’ in honor of or as a gift to someone you love this holiday season, and help make the impossible possible!

  • “$5,000 gives the Gift of Strength and provides for a therapy horse for a year.
  • “$2,500 gives the Gift of Independence and covers one semester of program expenses for a client.
  • “$1,000 gives the Gift of Wellness and provides a semester of counseling for a veteran or their family member
  • “$500 gives the Gift of Confidence and provides safety equipment for our clients.
  • “$250 gives the Gift of Education to local school children through the Equine Facilitated Learning program.
  • “$100 gives the Gift of Improved Health and provides a therapist for an occupational therapy session.
  • “$50 gives the Gift of Nourishment and feeds four therapy horses for a week. 

“To learn more about Equest and give a ‘Gift of the Horse’ please visit,”

-By Lili Kellogg, Equest CEO

* Graphic provided by Equest

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon Celebrated Equest’s 35th Anniversary With Guests Ponying Up For A Match Offer

Amigo, Rico and Teddy found Brook Hollow Golf Club to their liking on Tuesday, October 4. After all, the weather was perfect, the grass was green and they were the center of attention as guests arrived for the 2016 Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon’s “Riding High.” For their being part of the greeting lineup, Equest‘s Amigo, Rico and Teddy had come all the way from Equest’s Wylie facility and they definitely didn’t use Uber. The three equines opted for trailer accommodations with their handlers (Alyssa Cigainero, Shelby Nicoletti, Lizzie Ball and Tia Turkeulainen) and riders (James Taylor in English attire and Ryan Wolf in chaps) in tow.

Teddy and Alyssa Cigainero

Teddy and Alyssa Cigainero

Rico and Tiia Turkulainen

Rico and Tiia Turkulainen

Ryan Wolf, Amigo and Shelby Nicoletti

Ryan Wolf, Amigo and Shelby Nicoletti

Program Director Joan Cutler, who started out as an Equest volunteer back in the ’90s, couldn’t have been happier with her crew of horses, volunteers and staffers on the country club’s grounds.

Inside the clubhouse, Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Di Johnston was also all smiles about the day. Thanks to fashion producer Jan Strimple and Highland Park Village’s Lela Rose, Alice and Olivia, St. John, Market, Etro, Akris, Carolina Herrera and William Noble Jewels, there would be more than 70 outfits on the runway.

But before the fashions would be presented to guests like last year’s Honorary Chair Carolyn Lupton, Jean Lattimore, Lisa Cooley, Elisa Summers, Heather Washburne, Nancy Carter, Jill Rowlett and Bela Piertrovic, the program got underway with Di revealing that one of the best days during her presidency was the one in which Kara Axley agreed to chair the luncheon.

Carolyn Lupton and Jean Lattimore

Carolyn Lupton and Jean Lattimore

Kara recognized the partnership that Equest has had over the years with Highland Park Village and its being this year’s presenting sponsor. She then introduced Park Cities Presbyterian Church Associate Pastor Dr. Pete Deison, who reminded guests that “the heart of Equest is compassion. It is a value that is slowly and sadly waning in our society because we have become a society that is more interested in what we see on our computers and on our phones that we do reaching out and touching other people. We are also interested in the things that go fast rather than the time it takes to saddle a horse and touch an individual that needs our help.”

Following the invocation, Kara introduced 2016 Honorary Co-Chair Bill Noble, who described the love that he and wife/2016 Honorary Co-Chair Lezlie Noble have for Equest as a star with the five points — the staff, the volunteers, the horses, the clientele (handicapped children and military veterans) and the donors. “Equest cannot do what they do without you guys.”

Equest CEO Lil Kellogg then described how children who spend most of their days in wheelchairs are taller than all others when they ride their therapy horses.

Following Lili, a video was shown with Equest Founder Susan Schwartz and others recalling Equest’s 35 years of providing equine power for those with physical and emotional challenges.

Louise Griffeth, Kara Axley, Lindalyn Adams and Di Johnston

Louise Griffeth, Kara Axley, Lindalyn Adams and Di Johnston

As the lights went up, Equest Women’s Auxiliary Founder Louise Griffeth was at the podium introducing the 2016 Equest Award for Community Service honoree Lindalyn Adams. Louise described Lyndalyn as a “Superwoman” who has been the driving force for countless nonprofits and community organization, as well as being a great grandmother of four.

Following Lindalyn’s being presented with an award from Tiffany, Louise said that she had more news. An anonymous donor had agreed to match any monies raised at the day’s luncheon in honor of the 35th anniversary of Equest.

Annie Griffeth

Annie Griffeth

She then added that the poster at the entrance of the clubhouse would report the tally of the day, and that the illustration had been created by her new daughter-in-law Annie Griffeth.

Kara provided one more bit of news. Fashion producer Jan Strimple and Akris would be hosting an event benefiting Equest in the Akris store on Thursday, October 6, featuring their new Aidentity handbag from 1 to 6 p.m.

She also announced that Beth Thoele would be chairing the 2017 luncheon.

With the removal of the podium, the fashions started parading down the runway.

The only oops of the day occurred when a couple of guests managed to sit down in front-row seats that had been assigned to others, driving the real seat-holders away to the north 40. Then the same twosome arrived at one of the big-buck tables, forcing one of the assigned guests to hit McDonalds for a bite—and the venue’s staff to squeeze in an extra chair and place-setting at the table for the other displaced guest. Confused by the situation, the table host thought the event organizers had reassigned her/his original guests with the permission and approval of the castaways. Oh, well, mix-ups do happen. But even a McDonald’s Southwest salad can’t hold a candle to Brook Hollow’s pecan crusted chicken.

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Shopped And Partied Among The Luscious Lips And Fashions Of Alice And Olivia

Alice and Olivia lips

Alice and Olivia lips

With season in high throttle, a cluster of guests were filling Alice and Olivia on Tuesday, September 13. The draw and beneficiary was the Equest Women’s Auxiliary, which is holding its annual Equest Fashion Show chaired by Kara Axley. While no equine ambassadors were present, the mannequins were dressed to the max and the displays were filled with luscious lips. Fashion-loving and newly-engaged Fleming Longino was an early arrival to check out the goodies.

Kara Axley and

Kara Axley and Fleming Longino

Di Johnston and Kathy Fielder

Di Johnston and Kathy Fielder

Equest Board Member Kathy Fielder dropped by to check out a try-on in the dressing room, handed over her charge card and was off. Not bad. A percentage of the evening’s sales went to Equest.

When asked how the Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon and Style Show on Tuesday, October 4, at Brook Hollow was going, Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Di Johnston reported that it was moving along smoothly. Once again the Jan Strimple-produced fashion show will feature highlights from Akris, Alice+Olivia, Carolina Herrera, Etro, Lela Rose, Market and St. John.

Unlike the cross-town Texas Trailblazer Luncheon being held smack-dab on the same day at the same time, Di suggested that it was an apple and oranges situation. One is an elegant and intimate fashion show and the other is a 1,000 plus award presentation with speaker. The fact is both groups are benefiting area families and that’s what matters.

Grovel Alert: Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon And Style Show

Sure, it’s damp, but the temperatures are so user friendly. That’s especially true for retailers, who are stocking fall and winter goodies like cashmere sweaters, snugly coats and high-strutting boots.

Alice and Olivia boot (File photo)

Alice and Olivia boot (File photo)

Evidently that feeling of cooler times are just around the corner has inspired the horse-loving, fashionistas to get their places at the Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon and Style Show on Tuesday, October 4, at Brook Hollow Golf Club.

Fashion producer Jan Strimple has been working with presenting sponsor Highland Park Village and its merchants like Akris, Alice and Olivia, Carolina Herrera, Etro, Lela Rose, Market and St. John for what will be on the runway benefiting the Equest program.

Just heard that perhaps it’s because of the drop in temps that tickets are starting to get scarce, so contact Event Chair Kara Axley for your ticket. Then head to your closet and clear out your old winter duds. Because after this fundraiser you’re gonna need more room for the new looks.

North Texas Giving Day Booster: OurCalling

“Nonprofits fighting poverty in North Texas are facing an uphill battle. With one of the highest poverty rates in the country and a rapidly growing population, this recipe yields a growing mass of people struggling to survive. On top of that, nonprofits are strapped for resources to meet these growing challenges.

“It’s in this desert of resources that the North Texas Giving Day provides an oasis to replenish and restore hope to our city. They allow us to raise our flag to encourage every-day citizens to be a part our team, support our cause, and join the mission.



“And what does a small nonprofit like OurCalling do with money from local donors? We work on projects like our mobile app to help the homeless ( The Dallas Morning News, The New York Post and countless other media outlets throughout the country have written about our app. It’s unlike any other app on your phone. It enables every cell phone user in Dallas to assist the homeless by pointing to shelters, rehabs, domestic violence centers, food resources and more. The app uses your GPS location to show you the closest resources to where you are standing. It also uses your location to allow you to report a homeless encampment so our qualified teams can respond, visit that location and help the people living on the streets.



“There is no other app like this on the App Store and this is another example of Dallas leading in the fight to help the homeless. Nonprofits from the East coast, West Coast and throughout the country have contacted us about how to develop similar apps. We also produce a printed booklet listing the top 50 most accessible service providers in Dallas County ( This provides a handy and healthy alternative to give to someone on the streets. These projects and more are funded by local Dallas donors to help local Dallas needs.

“We also use funds from Giving Day to feed hungry people, support addiction recovery classes, provide daily Bible studies, life skills classes, and support mentoring programs to help rebuild and transform homeless individuals.

“Giving Day is a beautiful day for nonprofits like OurCalling. We serve 8,500 homeless individuals living in 1,200 encampments throughout the city of Dallas. We couldn’t do this without community-wide support driven by the North Texas Giving Day. This year, one of our great donors has provided a matching grant to be a catalyst for even more giving. What an exciting opportunity!”

-By Pastor Wayne Walker, OurCalling Executive Director

* Graphics provided by OurCalling


In seven years, North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $119 million into the North Texas community. In 2015, $33 million was raised through more than 118,000 gifts benefiting over 2,000 nonprofits.

On Thursday, September 22, support OurCalling by linking here and spreading the word. #NTxGivingDay

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon

According to Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon Chair Kara Axley and Auxiliary President Di Johnston,

Kara Axley and Di Johnston (File photo)

Kara Axley and Di Johnston (File photo)

“Equest has enhanced the lives of children and adults using horses to bring hope and healing through equine assisted therapies for thirty five years. The annual Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show and Luncheon, Riding High, will be Tuesday, October 4, at Brook Hollow Golf Club and will continue the 35th anniversary celebration by raising much-needed funds for Equest’s unique therapy programs.

“Today, Equest is the leader in equine assisted therapy and serves hundreds of riders annually. These riders include those with cerebral palsy and autism as well as orthopedic ailments. Additionally, Equest serves our country’s brave veterans through our ‘Horses for Heroes’ program.

“When Equest Women’s Auxiliary founder Louise Griffeth started the organization thirty years ago, Equest was known as Freedom Ride and many people were unfamiliar with the cause and how to become supporters. A lot has changed in the past three decades as Equest has received national recognition for its work and the Women’s Auxiliary is a thriving organization comprised of hundreds of dedicated women who work tirelessly to provide invaluable funding.

Lindalyn Adams and Louise Griffeth (File photo)

Lindalyn Adams and Louise Griffeth (File photo)

“Riding High will be a fun-filled day of fashion, great food and a glimpse into the workings of Equest programming. Fashion icon Jan Strimple will produce the fashion show with some of Highland Park Village’s most noted international retailers showing their collections.  Highland Park Village is the presenting sponsor of the luncheon and we are most grateful to the Al Hill Jr. family for their generosity.

“In addition to the fashion show, we will honor beloved community leader Lindalyn Adams with the 2016 Equest Community Service Award for many contributions and advocacy for Equest over three decades. We are also pleased to have longtime Equest supporters Lezlie and Bill Noble serve as Honorary Luncheon Chairs.

“We hope you will join us for this worthy and life changing cause. Please visit for more information.”

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Helping Our Heroes

According to Helping Our Heroes Event Co-Chairs Michael Marasco and Travis Wilson,

Travis Wilson and Michael Marasco*

Travis Wilson and Michael Marasco*

“Helping Our Heroes is a local organization with a vision to help those who serve so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms of living in the greatest country on Earth. We honor heroes from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard, as well as local police, firemen and first responders.

“We invite you to join us for our Sixth Annual Dinner and Golf Tournament. Coinciding with the 15th anniversary of 9/11, we will gather on Sunday, September 11, 2016, at the Frontiers of Flight Museum for dinner and a wonderful silent auction. General James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, will also be in attendance as the 2016 Guest of Honor. The following day, golfers will enjoy the day at Brookhaven Country Club where our annual golf tournament will take place, complete with lunch and an award celebration.

“Proceeds from the events will benefit Semper Fi Fund, which offers immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and Folds of Honor, which provides annual educational scholarships to the families of those killed or disabled while in active duty.

Helping Our Heroes**

Helping Our Heroes**

“In 2016, we aim to raise $200,000 for Semper Fi Fund and Folds of Honor. To view ticket packages or to purchase tickets, please visit the Helping Our Heroes website.

“We hope you will join us for dinner and a fun day of golf as we strive to make a positive difference in the lives of veterans and their families!”

* Photo credit: Rhi Lee 
** Graphic provided by Helping Our Heroes

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon Chair Kara Axley Finds A Match Made In Shopping Heaven

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon and Fashion Show Chair Kara Axley is having a real relationship with high-end merchants. The matchmaker is fashion-loving producer Jan Strimple. To have the most marvy fashions on the runway at Brook Hollow on Tuesday, October 4, the following merchants will be showcasing the fall fashions: Akris, Alice and Olivia, Carolina Herrera, Etro, Lela Rose, Market and St. John.

Akris (File photo)

Akris (File photo)

Lela Rose (File photo)

Lela Rose (File photo)

Caroline Herrera (File photo)

Caroline Herrera (File photo)

Adding to the luxury feel is the couple, who will be the honorary co-chairs. Yup, longtime supporters Lezlie Noble and her HPV jeweler husband Bill Noble.

Lezlie Noble in the center (File photo)

Lezlie Noble in the center (File photo)

Lindalyn Adams (File photo)

Lindalyn Adams (File photo)

And still another plus is the presentation of the Special Recognition Award to Lindalyn Adams. No, Lindalyn has not taken up residence in HPV, but she does shop and lunch there.

This fashion show is always a home run with handsome gents in riding attire as window dressing and, if the weather is user-friendly, the Equest Mini-ambassadors will be grazing on the lush Brook Hollow grounds.

Funds raised from the event will “benefit Equest’s therapeutic programming for children and adults with all types of physical, cognitive, emotional and learning disabilities.”

Oh, and, yes, HPV is the presenting sponsor for the 2016 Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon And Style Show.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Gala At The ‘Gait

According to ManeGait’s 2016 Gala at the ‘Gait Chair Landon Darling Schneider,

Landon Darling Schneider and Zach Schneider*

Landon Darling Schneider and Zach Schneider*

ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship will host its 9th Annual Gala at the ‘Gait, presented by Stereo East Home Theater, on Saturday, October 1. This year’s theme is ‘Soar On Wings Like Eagles’ – Isaiah 40:31. Gala at the ‘Gait blends elegance and Texas-style panache, transforming ManeGait’s equestrian therapy center into a welcoming ballroom. Sporting their finest Western attire, more than 700 guests attend this annual fundraiser, which will feature dishes from a host of local restaurants, an extensive live and silent auction, and, of course, dancing the night away to live music.

“Located on a rolling, 14-acre site in Collin County, ManeGait provides equestrian therapy to adults and children with physical, emotional, cognitive, sensory and behavioral disabilities. Certified instructors lead the program together with 350 volunteers per week and 20 skilled therapy horses.

“Gala at the ‘Gait is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser with proceeds from the event supporting 40 percent of its operating budget. These monies allow ManeGait to support riders from all across North Texas, including those in Dallas and Collin County.

“The night’s entertainment begins with guests being greeted upon arrival by ManeGait’s therapy horses. Once inside the arena party space, attendees can sample some of North Texas’ best restaurants in a ‘Taste of’ format with dishes from restaurant partners including: III Forks, Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar, Mexican Sugar cocina y cantina, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen, Patina Green Home & Market, Sugarbacon Proper Kitchen, Velvet Taco, Ida Claire, Sixty Vines, Hutchins BBQ, Cadillac Pizza Pub, Taverna Rossa,  Three Sixty at Gentle Creek Country Club, Nothing Bundt Cakes, The Ranch|Las Colinas, Tupps Brewery, Emporium Pies and Whole Foods Market.

“General admission tickets are $200 each. Sponsorships start at $2,500. For information, visit or call LeAnn AuBuchon at 469.422.6780.”

* Photo credit: Lori Wilson Photography

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Equest Men’s Auxiliary Golf Classic And Veteran Tribute Dinner

According to Maribeth Schultz, Ph. D., United States Air Force (Ret.) and Equest Hooves for Heroes participant about the Equest Men’s Auxiliary Golf Classic and Veteran Tribute Dinner,

“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I was an active duty Air Force psychologist and captain for seven years and came to Equest through their veterans program. I had reached the point where I couldn’t move. I couldn’t walk. Sometimes I would freeze up. I couldn’t get out of bed, and I couldn’t leave my house. And I came here [Equest], and I began to move and feel like I was a person again. It’s more than fun. It’s a lifeline. This has made a tremendous difference in my life. I had no life before Equest, and I say that sincerely. I appreciate the veterans program and everything it has brought to us.

“Adds Equest Director of Clinical and Veteran Services Jeff Hensley, ‘The Equest Hooves for Heroes program improves the lives of American warriors: our veterans. There are a host of challenges that veterans face when they leave active duty, and these can contribute to the heart-breaking reality that 22 veterans take their lives every day. At Equest, we are creating a safe environment for them to connect with one another, the community, and supporters, and overcome these challenges, and in doing so, we are quite literally saving lives. To date, Equest Hooves for Heroes has served approximately 370 individuals from Vietnam-era to present day conflicts at no cost.’

“Equest Men’s Auxiliary Golf Classic Co-Chair Kelly Bennett explains how you can help: ‘The Equest Men’s Auxiliary Golf Classic and Veterans Tribute Dinner, hosted by Honorary Chair Patrick M. Walsh, Admiral USN (Ret.) and my Co-Chair Andy Walsh, is one of Equest’s largest fundraisers and honors Equest’s veterans program. Not only is it raising necessary funds to provide complimentary services, but the dinner also pays tribute to those who have served America.

“‘It is a wonderful two-day event at Gleneagles Country Club located at 5401 West Park Boulevard Plano. The Veterans Tribute Dinner, including cocktail reception, silent auction, and dinner, will be held on Sunday, November 13, at 6:30 p.m. featuring guest speaker William D. French, Vice Admiral, USN (Ret.) who serves as President and CEO of the Armed Services YMCA based in Springfield, VA and as member of the National Advisory Committee for the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC). Tables are available for $1,000 (ten people) or individual tickets may be purchased for $100.

“‘The following day, the fun-filled Golf Classic will feature a helicopter drop, raffle items, gift bags, boxed lunch, long drive expert, and awards reception. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. and shotgun start at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 per individual or $600 for a group of four.’”

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2016 Stars And Stripes Luncheon And Film Festival

According to 2016 Stars And Stripes Luncheon And Film Festival Chairman Mary Humphreys Parker,

Mary Humphreys Parker (File photo)

Mary Humphreys Parker (File photo)

“I am honored to be asked to chair the 2016 Stars And Stripes Luncheon and Film Festival and have the upmost respect for former Navy SEAL and founder Ryan “Birdman” Parrott. His dedication to our country and veterans is remarkable. And to see what he has done in a few short years establishing Sons of the Flag gives us all hope that our servicemen can get the help they need. This organization is one of the few that helps Veterans, First-Responders and Civilian Burn Survivors and I am proud to be a part of it.

“We want to thank Stripe-A-Zone and Clay Cooley Auto Group for signing on early as presenting sponsors again this year. Their support of Sons of the Flag truly help propel the organization forward.

Clay and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

Clay and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

“This is our third annual event and will again feature a seated luncheon event followed by a weekend full of films. The festival will be held Friday, November 11 to Sunday, 13, with the luncheon event on Friday, November 11, which happens to be Veterans Day this year. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate and honor our heroes. The keynote speaker will be United States Congressman Sam Johnson. Congressman Johnson is a decorated war hero and native Texan and ranks among the few Members of Congress to fight in combat. Congressman Johnson is a decorated war hero and native Texan and ranks among the few Members of Congress to fight in combat. During his 29-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Rep. Johnson flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He endured nearly seven years as a Prisoner of War in Hanoi, including 42 months in solitary confinement. A decorated combat veteran and war hero, Sam was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, one Bronze Star with Valor, two Purple Hearts, four Air Medals, and three Outstanding Unit Awards.

Sam Johnson (File photo)

Sam Johnson (File photo)

“Additionally, Sons of the Flag will present the first Legacy Award to Dr. Stephen Burgher, a lead physician at the Baylor Scott And White Health Center, and a Marine Corps trauma team leader at a military medical unit in Afghanistan. We are thrilled that Nancy and David Burgher have agreed to serve as our honorary co-chairs, as they are loved and admired by so many, and embody the American Spirit of Faith and Love of Country in everything they do.

“The Stars And Stripes Film Festival will continue to celebrate our nation’s finest as represented in film, and announcements about our line-up will be made in early fall. This year’s film festival portion will move to Highland Park Village Theater. Sponsorships and passes are now on sale and can be purchased with the sponsorship contract.  Luncheon tickets and tables as well as individual film tickets can be purchased later this fall.

The Stars And Stripes Film Festival is programmed by James Faust, Artistic Director of the Dallas Film Society. The Dallas Film Society is a proud partner of Sons of the Flag and is instrumental in the success of the Stars And Stripes Film Festival. This is the third year that DFS has supported Sons of the Flag and has programmed the film festival.

All funds raised directly benefit Veteran, First-Responder and Civilian Burn Survivors supported by Sons of the Flag.

“For more information, please contact Mary Meier

Topgolf Initiates Healing Process To Financially Help Dallas Shooting Victims And Their Families

Despite the shock of last night’s shootings, area companies and people are already stepping up to help the victims. The folks at Topgolf have undertaken a “grassroots effort of Dallas businesses supporting local law enforcement after last night’s tragic events downtown.”

According to Topgolf’s Amanda Hill, the Dallas-based company is “pledging $10,000 to the Assist The Officer Foundation, an organization dedicate to making a difference in the lives of families of fallen officers… We’re asking other Dallas-based businesses to join us in donating to the Assist the Officer Foundation.”

There are 12 families, whose lives have been shaken to the core within the last 18 hours. While the emotional loss is daunting, the financial impact is something that the community can assist by donating here.

The foundation provides such services and programs as confidential counseling program, finance assistance (injury/illness), Dallas officer/reserve death benefits (on or off-duty) and line-of-duty benefits.

And this opportunity to help is not limited to companies. Individuals are more than welcome to donate.

Thank you, Topgolf, for providing the input of information and seed money. It is an important step in the healing process.

Auctions, Dancing, Dale Hansen And Mini-Ambassadors At Texas Horse Park Helped Equest Celebrate Its 35th Anniversary

One day before it took place on Saturday, May 7, Equest’s 35th Anniversary Gala at the Texas Horse Park was sold out. Walking around the gala off Pemberton Hill Road in South Dallas, it was easy to see why.

That situation was even more impressive since guests weren’t able to just drive up to the front door and turn their wheels over to car parkers. The vast majority had to be shuttled to the Park via chartered buses from locales in Dallas. After all, Texas Horse Park was built to be equine horsepower as opposed to an automotive parking lot. But despite the perceived inconvenience, the bus loads arrived for a night of fun and fundraising.

Stacey Hodge, Disco, Lisa Blackford, Sherry Wood, Dare, Christine Volkmer and Christa Collum

Stacey Hodge, Disco, Lisa Blackford, Sherry Wood, Dare, Christine Volkmer and Christa Collum

And, of course, there were the horses befitting the group that, since 1981, has used the four-hoofed critters to bring hope and healing to children and adults with diverse needs. (In fact, Equest was the first therapeutic riding program in Texas.) At the front door, there were the miniature equine stars Teddy Roosevelt and Tex; later, gals and guys could have their photo taken with Disco and Dare.

Susan Schwartz, Lili Kellogg and Helena Wall

Susan Schwartz, Lili Kellogg and Helena Wall

As the guests made their way into the grounds—among them, Stacey Hodge, Amy and Michael Meadows, Sherry Wood, Alan Curtis, David Whyman, Lezlie and Bill Noble, Jeff Byron, Kevin Hurst and Equest co-founder Susan Schwartz—they saw “client and rider demonstrations” happening in the outdoor pens. Moving down beneath the Equest covered arena, they encountered the reception and silent auction and, later, the table settings for the gala dinner and live auction. Among the auction highlights: a Costa Rica getaway (value, $12,000) and a Montana Sporting Club Retreat ($10,000).

Jody Dean, Maddie Dean and Jocelyn White

Jody Dean, Maddie Dean and Jocelyn White

Over at the “Equest Country Store,” meantime, mother and daughter Maggie and Annabelle Buckner (Annabelle’s 12) were checking out the goods. As Emilynn Wilson and her husband Claude strode through the stables, Emilynn said, “I just had a horse that fell in love with me.” Guests Phyllis Glazer and Susan Iannaccone were chit-chatting. While Maddie Dean patiently waited, her dad/emcee Jody Dean and co-emcee Jocelyn White huddled over last-minute details with the likes of Equest CEO Lili Kellogg and Helena Wall, who with her husband Doug Wall was serving as the Gala Chair. Despite all the hifalutin types, four-year-old mini-ambassador donkey Taco was quite content to stay in his stall and occasionally saunter over for a howdy do with a guest or two.

Susan Iannaccone and Phyllis Glazer

Susan Iannaccone and Phyllis Glazer



Honorary Chairs Chris and Dale Hansen soon pulled up in their big black SUV with Dale at the wheel and, much later, the Gala guests would be dancing up a storm to the music of Cary Pierce with Crystal Yates and John Christopher Davis. Really, now; with horses, good friends, great food and fun music, could there have been a better way to celebrate Equest’s landmark anniversary?

Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor Rebekah Gregory Tells About “The Best And Worst Day Of My Life” At Dallas Junior Forum

Leave it to the Dallas Junior Forum to have a luncheon that snuck under the radar with a knock-out speaker on Wednesday, April 13, at Belo Mansion. The speaker was Rebekah Gregory, who survived the infamous Boston Marathon bombing. While the news accounts of her life-changing experience have been covered ad nauseam, hearing Rebekah in person was another thing entirely. Here’s a report from the field:

Dallas Junior Forum sponsored its annual Spring Event at Belo Mansion and Pavilion Wednesday, April 13. The theme was “DJF Celebrates Service from the Heart” which embodies the goal of each member as she works with the organization’s seven core agencies throughout the greater Dallas area.

Texas Tea and silent auction*

Texas Tea and silent auction*

Festivities began with a reception and silent auction as guests were served “Tipsy Texas Tea,” a cocktail sponsored specialty from Belo Mansion. Theme colors of black, hot pink, and white adorned the auction tables as patrons had an opportunity to bid on amazing items in the silent auction. A vast array of over 300 auction items included beautifully framed original artwork by Sherri Alexander; a 48” by 34” Limited Edition Silkscreen on canvas entitled “Desert Beauties” by local artist Bonny Leibowitz; beautiful jewelry items; a fabulous Santa Fe Getaway; airline tickets and tickets to exciting entertainment venues; numerous food, spirits, and dining options; and boutique, children’s, gardening, and sports auction areas.

Karen Borta*

Karen Borta*

Raffle tickets were sold for items “All from Deep in the Heart of Texas” in keeping with the Dallas Junior Forum’s motto, “Service from the Heart.” Offerings included a Ruthie’s Rolling Café Party for 50. Ruthie’s is Mobile Cuisine’s 2015 Grilled Cheese Food Truck of the Year. Continuing the celebration with Texas style, a lucky guest won a $1,500 shopping spree at NorthPark Center, one of the retail wonders of the modern world. Another raffle item included a luxurious getaway at San Antonio’s finest luxury hotel, Eilan Hotel and Spa. The winner will relax and rejuvenate with an indulgent spa gift basket including champagne, gift certificates for spa services and fine international dining as well as round-trip airfare from Dallas.

At noon, guests were welcomed by Mistress of Ceremonies Karen Borta of CBS 11 News. At 12:05 p.m., the luncheon was served on tables adorned with white clothes, black and white stripped runners, and black and white polka dotted napkins in heart shaped gold napkin rings. Fresh flowers in myriad shades of pink and white adorned each table.

Guests enjoyed a delicious lunch which began with fried green tomatoes and black eyed pea caviar, with buttermilk ranch drizzle. An Entrée Salad followed with sliced southern fried chicken breast, colorful salad greens, jicama, sweet red bell pepper, carrot, granny smith apple, blueberries and Honey mustard dressing. A Belo Mansion bread basket and butter were included. Delightful desserts were wafer banana pudding or strawberry shortcake trifle along with coffee service.

Lexia Allen and Gay Nassri*

Lexia Allen and Gay Nassri*

At 12:35, Karen introduced Luncheon Chairs. Dallas philanthropist Faye Briggs was honorary chair of the event. Event co-chairs were Lexia Allen and Gay Nassri. Host committee was comprised of Linda Claycomb, Cathy Marquis, Cathy Packard and Steven and Misty Smathers. Committee Chairs were Maritza Acosta, Candy Carby, Kathy Caywood, Helen Curtis, Mary Lou Fleming, Vanessa Hoffman, Ann M. Jones, Nancy Malooly, Valerie McMahan, Diana Melendez, Kristin Parrino, Sandra Prater, Mary Preslar, Penny Sanders, Julie Sheridan and Kay Trapp. Carly Madison is vice president of development.

Mary Cartwright*

Mary Cartwright*

DJF President Mary Cartwright remarked on the mission and agencies served by the organization and the four core areas addressed by volunteers including Nourish to Flourish, Child Stars, Golden Friendships, and At Your Service.

“Dallas Junior Forum extends our sincerest thanks to all our sponsors, donors, contributors and special friends,” Cartwright said. “Your generosity enabled us to directly improve the lives of thousands of individuals across North Texas. It is only through your support we are able to continue to commit financially to the North Texans in need.”

Next, Karen introduced guest speaker Rebekah Gregory, who is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings three years ago. With tears and with laughter Gregory told the story of “The Best and Worst Day of My Life.” It was the worst day because her world and her body were shattered by a bomb planted three feet behind her by two brothers bent on destroying our American way of life. It was the best day because she survived, and because her five-year-old son Noah was sitting on her feet when the bomb exploded, his life was spared. Gregory sacrificed her left leg for the life of her son. She said she would do it over again in a heartbeat. She said that she and her son have learned to deal with the cards they were dealt by using humor.

Rebekah Gregory*

Rebekah Gregory*

Noah is proud of his mom because none of the other kids have a “robot” mom. Gregory named her prostatic leg “Felicia” after a character in the movie “Friday.”

“I saw a quote on Pentrist right before my amputation, and it just said, ‘I wish I had Felicia’s life; she’s always going somewhere,’” Gregory said. “That was perfect. I’d been completely wheelchair bound for a year-and-a-half, and when I got this new leg, there was no stopping me.

Since her recovery, Gregory has traveled all over the United States and internationally telling her story. Guests at the luncheon laughed and cried with her as she shared her journey over the last three years.

Although Gregory had planned to spend this April at home in Houston, trying to keep life as normal as possible, she changed her mind and came to Dallas to speak at Dallas Junior Forum’s Spring Event.

“I’m so excited to be a part of this today because these ladies are absolutely phenomenal,” she said. “When I read about the work that they do and the hours that they put in – that is leading a meaningful life. Women’s inspiring other women is so important and powerful. Anytime I can be involved in something like this, I’m 100 percent all for it.”

About Dallas Junior Forum

Dallas Junior Forum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded in 1977. Last year DJF members volunteered more than 14,700 hours of work valued at more than $362,500 and awarded more than $103,000 in grant and non-grant funding to nonprofit agencies in the greater Dallas area. DJF is one of nine chapters of Junior Forums, Inc., a Texas-based service organization founded in 1959. For more information, visit

* Photos provided by the Dallas Junior Forum

Equest Mini-Ambassadors And Guests Headed To “The Walls” To Kick Off Plans For 35th Anniversary Gala Fundraiser

All those horseshoes at Equest are bringing luck to their fundraising efforts. On Wednesday, March 16, Equest Gala Co-Chairs Helena and Doug Wall really lucked out with the weather before the rains and chills arrived in the following days. The reason was their hosting the kick-off party for the 35th anniversary of the Equest fundraiser at their home. Here’s a report from the field:

Doug Wall and Lezlie and Bill Noble*

Doug Wall and Lezlie and Bill Noble*

“Two feet move our body. Four feet move our soul,” quoted William Noble. The quote summed the passion and support at the kick-off event for the Equest 35th Anniversary as it celebrates over 30 years of life-changing journeys that cherished Equest therapy horses have provided for children, adults and veterans to overcome unique challenges.

Lili Kellogg*

Lili Kellogg*

Hosted at the gorgeous home of Chairs Helena and Doug Wall, approximately 100 guests were greeted by three-feet-tall four-legged friends and mini ambassadors Cisco and Dare. Guests shopped for the upcoming gala at the Ocean Point Tack Shop pop-up featuring the equestrian chic collection of Kingsland Equestrian Apparel. Delectable bites from Farm to Market Catering, such as smoked chicken profiteroles, shrimp cocktail with blood orange cocktail sauce and horseradish panna cotta, and Beef Wellington were savored, and Milagro margarita toasts were shared.  As a departing gift, guests received mini blood orange pop-tarts from Pink Apron Pastry.

Paul Valdez, Michele Ritter and Andy Steingasser*

Paul Valdez, Michele Ritter and Andy Steingasser*

The energy and excitement for the gala were contagious among the ensemble including: Equest Interim CEO Lili Kellogg, Equest Chairman of the Board Andy Steingasser, Lezlie and Bill Noble, Kelly and Marty Turco, Allane O’Neil, Terri Sue and Jack Wensinger, Dina and Jason Arnott, Trish and Joe Judson, Carrie and Dodd Crutcher, Di Johnston, Frank Carter, Margaret and David Henry, Leslie and Hawkins Golden, Darla Ripley, Nancy Natinksy, Kelly Morrison, Lane Cates and Brad McClain, Meghan Nylin and Neiman folks like Jeff Byron, Kevin Hurst and Mimi Sterling among others.

Terri Sue Wensinger, Kristin Reed, Mary Hawkins, Helena Wall, Karen Smith and Lezlie Noble*

Terri Sue Wensinger, Kristin Reed, Mary Hawkins, Helena Wall, Karen Smith and Lezlie Noble*

Prepare to celebrate all things Equest at the 35th Anniversary Gala. The equestrian-chic fundraiser, hosted by Honorary Chairs Chris and Dale Hansen and Chairs Helena and Doug Wall, brings together gourmet southern cuisine, craft cocktails, live music by Cary Pierce­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­, prized live and silent auction items, and some fun horsing-around. Equest 35th Anniversary Gala will be held on Saturday, May 7, starting at 7:00 p.m. at Texas Horse Park (811 Pemberton Hill Road, Dallas, TX 75217). Sponsorships are available starting at $5,000. Tables (of 10) are available to purchase for $2,500 and individual tickets for $250 at For more information, visit or call 972.412.1099.

JUST IN: Equest Interim CEO Lili Kellogg Officially Named Equest CEO

Despite grumbly skies and a killer schedule of activities today, more news is coming in. Equest has a new executive director! The equine therapeutic program that helps everyone from kiddos to vets has been under the direction of Interim CEO Lili Kellogg, since Patrick Bricker departed back in October.

Lili Kellogg (File photo)

Lili Kellogg (File photo)

Horse-pert Lili has done such a fine job that they’ve removed the word “interim” from her title, so she is now officially Equest’s CEO.

And this ain’t her first rodeo, not by a long shot. Besides earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Colorado State University, she’s also received her certification from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International as a master instructor, site visitor and faculty/evaluator, as well as coaching equestrian teams at national and international events including the 196 Paralympics. In 2002 she was the recipient of the James Brady Professional Achievement Award that is “the highest honor in the therapeutic riding industry.”

Having worked with Equest as program director for years, she became director of ManeGait and the executive director for Houston’s SIRE. It was in January 2015 that Lili joined Equest as VP of Operations, much to the delight of staff and board members.

According to Equest Chairman of the Board Andy Steingasser, “Finding the right talent, experience and personality that embodies the Equest CEO position is of paramount importance. Lili Kellogg exceeds all of our criteria. She could write the book on Therapeutic Horsemanship, and we are thrilled to have her leading our team.”

But in addition to overseeing the clients, staff and horses that now includes both the facilities at Wylie and Texas Horse Park, Lili’s also preparing the 35th Annual Equest Gala on Saturday, May 7, at Texas Horse Park that’s being chaired by Helena and Doug Wall and co-chaired by Chris and Dale Hansen. Handling the music for the evening will be Cary Pierce.

Congrats to Lili and Equest.

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Letters Launch Membership Sign-Ups

Normally Brenda Cockerell’s dining room table is just perfect for holiday feasting with loads of food on the table and family and friends settling back for a good time. But just last week, the table was covered with stacks of letters and pens. As for the group, it was elbow-to-elbow with Equest Women’s Auxiliary gals putting their John Joan Hancocks on the missives that just hit the mailboxes this week.

Michaela Dyer, Beth Layton, Anne Dyer, Linda Secrest, Pam MCallum, Marisa Huckin and Vicky Lattner

Michaela Dyer, Beth Layton, Anne Dyer, Linda Secrest, Pam MCallum, Marisa Huckin and Vicky Lattner

And, no, it’s not about the Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon and Style Show. Fashion Show Chair Kara Axley is holding off making any announcements until all the deets are finalized. Well, not all the specifics. It will be at Brook Hollow. And the date will be Tuesday, October 4.

Kara Axley, Di Johnston and Brenda Cockerell

Kara Axley, Di Johnston and Brenda Cockerell

The letters were to invite folks to join the Women’s Auxiliary. In addition to supporting “one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding programs in the United States,” members get invitation to the annually sold-out fashion show. Sorry, but before you ask — Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Di Johnston reports the membership doesn’t entitle you to ride one of the four-legged Equest residents.

And talk about a bargain! Memberships start at $45. Shoot it costs more to get a membership at Costco.

If your letter hasn’t hit your mailbox, don’t wait. This ain’t “by-invitation-only.”

Baylor Health Care System Foundation Luncheon Was The Scene Of Amazing Developments In Physical Rehabilitation

Most folks associate physical rehab with AARP types who are having hips, knees and what all repaired. But on Tuesday, February 9, the Baylor Health Care System Foundation Board luncheon was filled at Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center to learn about the amazing progress being made dealing with the thousands of spinal cord and traumatic brain (TBI) injuries. Each year Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in partnership with Select Medical Corporation deals with 40,000 patients in their road to recovery.

Patti Foster

Patti Foster

From the invocation by former Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation patient Patti Foster to Baylor Scott and White CEO Joel Allison hinting at what lay ahead, the program was going to run the gamut of personal and breathtaking stories. As Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson advised one guest, “We’ve got Kleenex available.”

And right he was about the need for tissue. From corporate executives to community volunteers like Margo Goodwin, Pryor Blackwell, Nancy Dedman, Lisa Troutt, Richard Holt, Jill Smith, Steve Lieberman, Trisha Wilson, Pierce Allman, Nancy Carter, Kathy Crow, Barry Andrews, Jeff Staubach, Linda Custard and Mike McGuire, all were amazed at what was presented.

Jill Smith, Robin Robinson and Nancy Dedman

Jill Smith, Robin Robinson and Nancy Dedman

Joel Allison and Richard Holt

Joel Allison and Richard Holt

Jeff Staubach, Barry Andrews and Mike McGuire

Jeff Staubach, Barry Andrews and Mike McGuire

First on the program were members of the BIR medical team including physiatrist Dr. Randi Dubiel and clinical researcher Dr. Simon Driver. Randi revealed that traumatic brain injuries have almost become “a kind of epidemic of sorts” with 2.2M victims in the U.S. each year, and 5.2M live with traumatic brain injuries. The BIR team works with the patient to deal with more than the initial physical damage. They work with the patients to adjust to their long-term care and “not just survive their injuries but thrive” in the years to come.

Randi Dubiel

Randi Dubiel

Simon Driver

Simon Driver

Surprising some of the guests, it was revealed that spinal cord and traumatic brain patients have greater problems dealing with obesity, heart disease, diabetes and depression.

Simon reported that the research at BIR is “very patient centered.” Involving the patients in the project, he works on the therapy floor with the clinicians to research and develop new techniques to better understand the challenges of the patients. BIR is just one of 16 systems in the country that is recognized as a model system by the National Institute of Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research.

Simon told of two projects underway at BIR:

  1. Persons suffering TBI are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease and diabetes than the general population. Those suffering from spinal cord injuries also share this likelihood. BIR is creating a modified weight-loss program incorporating nutrition and physical activity for spinal cord injured patients.
  2. The development of health literacy to provide patients with a better understanding of their health needs. Too often patients may not fully understand or be uncertain of what the doctor said or how they should proceed. This situation is especially true for TBI and spinal cord patients. BIR is placing an emphasis on better communication between the healthcare providers and the patients.

Then the personal testimonies took place, leading off with a young mother who had been on the Orix legal team. In 2010 she and her kids were in a neighbor’s yard pet sitting when a tree fell. Luckily, her children were spared, but the attorney found herself suffering from a devastatingly complete spinal cord injury paralyzing her from the waist down, resulting in her being dependent upon a wheelchair.

Joel Allison, Elizabeth Dane, Jim Thompson and Robin Robinson

Joel Allison, Elizabeth Daane, Jim Thompson and Robin Robinson

Thanks to the BIR team and her bosses at Orix like Jim Thompson, she slowly adapted to this dramatic life-changing development and rejoined the workforce. But the efforts continued and thanks to advancements in technology, the Ekso-skeleton was developed. Assisted by Joanna Weakley and Dr. Chad Swank, Elizabeth Daane entered from the back of the room. All eyes focused on her as she slowly navigated her way through the tables and chairs in her Ekso-skeleton with the assistance of Chad and Joanna and crutches. Thanks to a computer and battery, Elizabeth was able to stand, walk and move around. It was obvious that the skeleton was not an easy device to maneuver. As Elizabeth demonstrated the skeleton walking through the room, she proved that she hadn’t lost her sense of humor. When asked a question, she responded, “I can’t walk and talk.”

But the skeleton does more than allow the patient to be more mobile. Elizabeth explained how in her case the skeleton’s ability to move the limbs also allowed her to exercise and deal with chronic nerve pain. As Elizabeth described it, “It’s not like the pain when you pull a muscle at the gym. It sounds crazy. So I don’t have normal sensation in my legs. But I feel kind of a sensation that is burning, stabbing, scorching pins and needles on steroids. And I feel it all the time. One thing the Ekso-skeleton does is changes the sensation. It doesn’t make them go away, but it moves them. And when you’ve had the same burning sensation in the same spot for five years, just shifting it from the back of your calf to the front of your calf feels like major relief.”

Chad Swank, Joanna Weakley and Elizabeth Dane

Chad Swank, Joanna Weakley and Elizabeth Dane

While Chad admitted that the Ekso-skeleton price ($175,000) is prohibitive for many, the future of such technology holds even greater opportunities for patients. He explained that it can also be used for stroke victims and anybody with a neurologic injury can potentially benefit from this type of technology.

As Elizabeth left the room, Robin returned to the podium and explained that they were going to switch gears to a TBI case. He introduced Julie Self, who had been a victim of a dramatic car accident. No, Julie had not been in the accident, but outgoing, bright daughter Audrey had been. In November 2013, the SMU coed had just celebrated her 20th birthday. She had been awarded a full academic scholarship and was studying at the Cox School of Business majoring in accounting. On November 21, the entire family including her father Mike and brother Avery undertook saving Audrey’s life and her recovery along with the medical staff. She remained in a coma for 30 days. Coming out of the coma, she was eventually moved to BIR, where “breathing was literally the only thing she could do.” For four months, the team worked with her. Despite her being physically dependent and having very limited short-term memory, the decision was to move her home in April 2014. Still she continued her therapy including occupational therapy at the Tom Landry Center for her hand. She connected with her therapist and talked about him when she got home. “This was a huge step for Audrey. It proved her short-term memory was finally beginning to improve.”

Avery Self, Audrey Self and Mike and Julie Self

Avery Self, Audrey Self and Mike and Julie Self

After two years, the Self family feels that the team of therapists and doctors are like family bringing Audrey through this journey.

Julie then introduced Audrey, who was seated at a nearby table. The 22-year-old looked nothing like the photos of the patient in the hospital bed that had been shown on the screen. She had a beautiful smile and a twinkle in her eye.

Audrey told the room of executives, philanthropists and community leaders: “Life is hard for everyone. We make the choice every day whether or not to make the best of what we have in front of us. I have always been someone who likes to set goals and plan ahead. But life is not like writing a book. We cannot plan for the unexpected. And we cannot control our outcome in everything we do. The little things, the baby steps add up to be the big steps. This impacts every aspect of our lives from recovery, relationships and overall life. With hard work, patience, perseverance and time, each baby step adds up and suddenly we realize we are making significant strides.”

She feels that she is the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, and that “Hope means nothing is impossible.”

After the applause settled down, Robin told how last fall the Foundation team arranged for Don Wills and Don Jackson of the Ginger Murchison Foundation to meet Audrey. Then he asked her what her future plans were. She said that she’s going back to SMU in the fall.

Robin said, “Let me stop you right there.” He told her how 46 years ago he had been a student in Don Jackson’s finance class at SMU. Robin then let Julie pick up the connection between Don Jackson and Audrey. It seems that due to the accident, there had been some issues dealing with Audrey’s full scholarship and her returning as a part-time student.

Learning of the situation, Don got the situation straightened out and the next day the Selfs received a call saying that her scholarship had been adjusted to meet her needs.

Don Jackson and Audrey Self

Don Jackson and Audrey Self

Surprising all, Don presented Audrey with a SMU cap and told how SMU, like Baylor, would “be ready in every way possible to make her life easy. We are going to find her the best faculty. We’re going to find her the best ways to get around with our special people who work with students with special needs. Her scholarship can be for one hour at a time or one course at a time and she can take 20 years, if she needs to … like some guys. But she’s so clever, I expect her to be threw quickly…. I’m going to watch over her and make sure that she gets the best classes she can get. We’re gonna see her walk across that stage one day.”

Robin then made one request of Audrey: that when she gets her degree, she’ll return to tell of her journey at SMU. Without hesitation, she said, “Absolutely!”

As a follow up, Robin then asked Lauren Rachal to stand up. He told that when he met with the two Dons, they talked with Lauren, who had been Audrey’s physical therapist. When they saw a patient who was struggling just to stand with the help of three therapists, someone said, “How sad.” Lauren told them that, “If you walk through BIR one day, it would probably be depressing. But come back the next day and come back the next week and to see the progress that people make and the many things people do turning tragedy into triumph. It is one of the most motivating and inspiring places they could be.”